GOVERNMENT will ‘throw out’ lodge owners and private operators in the Lower Zambezi Valley if they don’t involve local people as partners in businesses, says Vice-President Guy Scott.
And Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya says people should stop complaining about the Patriotic Front (PF) because the work that the party in government has done in three years is equal to the 20 years which other political parties spent in power.
Meanwhile, World Bank country manager Kundhavi Kadiresan says the development finance institution will continue collaborating with government in developing the country.
Officially commissioning the K53 million World Bank-funded bridge across the Kafue River in Chiawa area, which has been named Michael Chilufya Sata, Vice-President Scott on Friday said locals must benefit from development.
“Development is good if locals are benefitting and this is a Zambian valley. I was shocked this morning when I inquired about booking at a certain lodge only to be told that I should send a telegram to Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.
“I told them to correct their procedures and if they don’t do that within two weeks, we shall throw them out because they can’t be treating us this way after 50 years of independence; Zambians are not here to marvel at development but must participate in it,” Dr Scott said.
He directed the Zambia Wildlife Authority to stop working for foreign tour operators and start serving the interests of Zambians.
“The land given to foreigners is too huge and you can’t chase people away from their land just because of tourism which is controlled by foreigners. As PF we do what we say and what we are saying is that Zambians should be number one candidates in development,” he said.
On the bridge, Dr Scott said the Government is committed to fulfilling its promises.
“This project is not just to please the eyes but to help poor people, it didn’t fall from the sky in the night but the PF government put it deliberately to help the people,” he said.
Dr Scott said there are risks with opening up of such areas.
“Land is already expensive and people from Lusaka are speculating and trying to push you away but I urge those entrusted with authority to protect people to do so or else I will protect the people of Chiawa myself,” Mr Scott said.
And Ms Kadiresan said cooperation with Zambia dates back to 1995 when funding was provided for the construction of hydropower projects.
“Currently, the Bank’s support to Zambia amounts to US$570 million (K3 billion) covering many sectors including education, agriculture, energy, health and transport.
“It is our view that this bridge will make a positive contribution at regional, country and local levels in terms of trade, movement of people and quality of life,” she said.
Chieftainess Nkomeshya said it was like a dream seeing the bridge in Chiawa.
“I am asking myself if this is really happening, business will now thrive but I am worried about the continued fencing off of the river frontage by private developers thereby restricting local people from accessing the river.
“This is not good, whatever development is taking place local people must benefit since these are God-given resources, so they should be engaged as partners and not as cheap labourers,” she said.
She said the PF government is performing well.
“Within three years, the work done by the PF is equal to the 20 years which other parties spent in power, so why are we complaining? Who thought a bridge can be built across the flood plains of Western Province?
“It is like in the Bible that you have eyes but you can’t see. I am saying this because it is a development programme, not a political rally. If it was such I would not have driven all the way from Chongwe,” said Chieftainess Nkomeshya.
In a vote of thanks, Chieftainess Chiawa said President Sata is an action-oriented person.
“Previous governments promised us a bridge but it never happened. Our current President doesn’t talk but his action speaks louder. We are humbled with this project since it will help improve our livelihoods,” she said.
The bridge was built by Henan International of China under supervision of Arab Consulting Engineers of Egypt and took 18 months to be completed.
Zambia Daily Mail